Equipping for disaster

Wooden pallets: A material goldmine

By Jake Sepulveda

Whether you’re fixing a hole in the ceiling so the rain doesn’t get in, boarding up the doors and windows to protect from a Zombie apocalypse, need some basic building materials, or have a fire to fuel, pallets are there for you.

Typically speaking, wooden pallets seem to be the most readily available, so that’s what we’ll focus on here. Most often constructed with a mix of 2x4s, 2x8s, and occasionally a bit of plywood, wooden pallets are a great building material for the apocalypse.

Uses For Wooden Pallets: The below uses are a small example of the versatility that even just 1 wooden pallet can offer a creative user. From chicken coops, to outhouses, basic repairs, rafts, and more…a well used pallet can be a lifesaver.

  • Securing a Location – From barring windows and doors, use as a barricade, or reinforcing walls, wooden pallets can excel at helping you fortify your location and be better prepared against Zombie attacks.
  • Basic Repairs – Perfect for patching damaged roofs, walls, windows, doors, and floors.
  • Firewood – Pulled apart or not, wooden pallets can be great for firewood, but only if you’re certain the pallet has not been chemically treated.
  • Weapons/Self-Defense – While it isn’t the most effective weapon, a single board from a wooden pallet can be used as a bludgeon when you’re short other, more effective, options.
  • Building Materials – Proper building materials may be hard to come by in a post disaster world, but a couple of pallets can help get you by. You can make just about anything from an old pallet…as long as you’ve got a few tools around, and a bit of creativity to do it. Don’t forget that, as long as you’re careful, you can reuse the nails from a pallet too.
  • Shelter – Put together properly, a small stack of pallets can be worked into a pretty decent shelter.

We recommend grabbing a pallet or two before you need them, and trying out a few of the idea’s above…not to mention any of the hundreds more that you might come up with.

Scavenging Pallets: Scavenging for pallets can be labor intensive work, but with a set of wheels or an extra set of hands, it’s really not that bad. Always make sure to follow local laws and the basic rules for scavenging safely and effectively. Places to find pallets include:

  • Loading docks
  • Industrial districts
  • Scrap yards
  • Warehouses
  • Shipping yards
  • Mattress stores
  • Hardware stores
  • Grocery outlets and farmers markets

Before putting your life into the hands of a found pallet, test it’s strength by giving it a good kick or two to see how it holds up. It you can’t break through it, it’s likely that a Zombie can’t either…but remember that Zombies rarely work alone.

CAUTION: Not all wooden pallets are same to use in the home or over a fire. Many pallets have been treated with a chemical wash to protect them from moisture and rot. These chemicals can be harmful to soil, pets, and people. While not all wooden pallets contain chemicals, some have been shown to be tainted with strains of E.Coli. Always get your pallets from trusted sources, and use them with caution.

HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE: Most treated pallets are marked with either an HT (heat treated) or an MB (methyl bromide, a highly toxic pesticide that is being phased out) marking on the tops and/or sides of the structures. Newer pallets stamped with the HT code should be safe to use for burning, building, etc. Anything older than a few years or with an MB stamped on it should be avoided… especially when looking for fuel or structures that will come into close and/or repeated contact with food and persons.

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